Skills set

Have your heart set on that corner office? These 10 tips from today's leaders will help get you there.

1. Learn everyone else's business.
"It's really important not to be compartmentalized," Picturehouse president Bob Berney says. "For example, if you're a production executive, understand distribution and marketing. If you're a filmmaker, look at how every other film does and know its marketing budget."

2. Choose your mentors wisely.
"They'll provide you with shortcuts and guidance and the DNA of your career," UTA veteran Jeremy Barber says. "I had success when I picked good mentors and failure when I picked bad ones."

3. Choose your company wisely.
"I've been here 17 years, and it's a place where the very culture of the company is to promote from within," Fox Searchlight president Peter Rice says. "When you look at the senior management, almost every single person has been here over a decade."

4. Stick around town.
New Line president of production Toby Emmerich has lived in both New York and Los Angeles, but he says the West Coast is where it's happening. "It's really helpful to be here in order to know what's going on. I think you can go where you like at a certain point, but you want to spend at least four years in L.A. getting your masters in the industry."

5. Suck it up.
"Being successful isn't just handling the promotions and the raises and the recognition," says Jonathan Wald, senior vp of business news at CNBC. "You also have to handle defeat. It's how you handle the challenging times that's most important."

6. Know when not to suck it up.
"The business doesn't teach you how to manage successfully as much as to be a successful killer and go out and win," Wald continues. "A big lesson that's lost on people on the way up is knowing when to break the china and knowing when to accept the dirty dishes."

7. Know everything about something.
"If you're the person who goes to comedy clubs every night of the week, you'll be the person your boss goes to if he's looking for a comedy," Rice says. "If you like action movies, make it your business to know every international action movie that's ever been made."

8. Admit when you know nothing.

"One of the important things in the creative field is understanding there isn't a right answer," HBO entertainment president Carolyn Strauss says. "What matters is to be willing to sit and listen and have an opinion, not necessarily the answer."

9. Trust your instincts.
"You have to be really patient," says David Lonner, co-head of WMA's motion picture department. "But if you believe in something, it's more than likely to happen if you just stick it out."

10. Cut yourself a break.
Says Wald, "My favorite quote from an industry leader is from (late NBC Entertainment chief) Brandon Tartikoff, who said, 'In an industry with no clear path to the top, how can anything be considered a detour?' I apply that to life every day."


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